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By DANNY P. SMITH
It wasn't the kind of start the Starkville Christian Lady Cougars wanted against the Jackson Lady Victors Tuesday night.
The second half was more like it for Starkville Christian girls coach Mary Kathryn Whittle.
After trailing 23-2 after the first quarter and 32-12 at halftime, the Lady Cougars cut the margin to 46-39 in the fourth period before losing a 54-39 decision at the Cougar Cave.
Starkville Christian out-scored Jackson 27-22 in the second half.
"We played our hearts out in the second half and won the second half," Whittle said. "I told them to try and get within 10 at the end of the third quarter and we were within seven with 3 minutes left, then they made free throws at the end of the game.
"If we could have played a different quarter and a half, it would have been a different game."
A basket by Charity Morris and a pair of free throws by Sydney Whitehead closed the gap to 54-29 for the Lady Cougars, but the Lady Victors scored the last eight points of the game.
Morris had 24 points to lead Starkville Christian, while Hannah Buckner was next in the scoring column with five points.
Even though the Lady Cougars didn't finish the way Whittle wanted, she can still see progress for her young team.
"I think in the second half, we showed what we can be," Whittle said. "We've just got to bring it for two halves to compete with a lot of people."
In junior varsity action, SCS defeated Jackson 28-19 as Jazlyn Douglas scored in double digits with 12 points and Buckner chipped in seven points.
Starkville Christian 31
Starkville Christian held a 7-6 lead after the first quarter, but things went sour from that point.
The Cougars were out-scored by the visiting Victors 29-12 in the second half to suffer the loss.
The two teams went back and forth in the first quarter.
Caleb Jordan put SCS on top early with a free throw, then after a basket by Jackson, Ryan Burger scored to give the Cougars a 3-2 advantage.
Jackson went back in front 6-3 with four-straight points, but another basket by Burger and one by Jordan secured the 7-6 lead for Starkville Christian at the end of the first quarter.
The Victors went on a 17-8 run in the second quarter and turned up the heat with a surge in the third quarter.
Paul Michael Calhoun was the leading scorer for the Cougars with eight points, while Austin Foxx added seven points. Foxx had five of his points in the second half.
Starkville Christian won the junior varsity game 24-19 behind the nine points of Jesse Little.
The next action for the Cougars will be at home against Hebron Christian on Dec. 16.